Webster University’s women’s tennis team resumed their season, playing their first games since the ITA Central Regionals in September. The team has found ways to keep their schedule busy, though, as they hosted their fifth semi-annual Gorloks Doubles Championship on Sunday.
The event is directed by senior Monica Behrle, who earned her ninth St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Women’s Tennis Player of the Week Honor on Monday. Behrle receives support from her tennis teammates, as the team works multiple local organizations to not only raise funds, but also promote the game of tennis and a sense of togetherness.
“I really wanted to bring people together,” Behrle said. “Tennis is my passion, and being able to share that with people is a really amazing feeling.”
In the past, the event has gotten the support of Webster University faculty members, such as the Dean of the Business School, Dr. Simone Cummings, Webster University President Elizabeth Stroble and multiple coaches and trainers.
Cummings spoke positively about her previous experiences at the event. Each year, she said she asked to be paired with the same partner, junior tennis player Madison Watts. Together, the two have improved each year, and Cummings hopes the two can win the next event, her last chance to play with Watts.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Cummings said. “Really, I would encourage more students, more faculty and staff to come out and participate. You don’t have to know how to play tennis. You can’t ask for a better day to hang out with good people.”
The event also gives potential recruits a chance to meet future coaches and players and display their skills in the exhibitions.
The team credits the overall idea of the Gorloks Doubles Championship to Webster University’s Head Strength and Conditioning Head Coach, Matt Saitz. Behrle said the team wanted to find a more creative way to raise funds and bring multiple backgrounds together.
The tennis team also finds itself in the beginning stages of the season. They have gotten off to a 1-2 start to the season, with an upcoming game on Thursday against Lindenwood University-Belleville. After that game, the team will head to South Carolina for the Spring Tennisfest.
The team is in the middle of a transitional phase, adding in new pieces. They are hoping events such as the fundraiser help add to their team chemistry, and overcome the slow start.
“Since I came in as a freshman (two seasons ago), we have not had any new freshmen come in before this year,” Madison Watts said. “We are definitely in a learning curve right now of integrating teammates into new positions and getting back into the groove of the season.”
Watts also said she believes playing over spring break will help the team to work out the kinks and get ready to take on conference opponents.
Assistant Women’s Tennis coach Kaylen Kress believes events such as this help increase camaraderie. The event helps to establish accountability and encourages each team member to do their part in making it a positive event.
“The success of these events are only met because every player and coach steps up and chips in,” Kress said. “I think the success of these events reflects on what our team represents. We rely on each other to be professional, welcoming, hard working and team players.”
The date for a potential sixth annual event has not yet been scheduled. With Behrle graduating in May, there is a bit of uncertainty. Behrle said that she hoped the event continued after her commencement.
Even given that uncertainty, Behrle said the event has gathered a positive reputation among participants and coaches. She looks back positively on the culture that she and the team have been able to create.
“My favorite part of the event is seeing and hearing people laugh and having fun playing the game I love so much,” Behrle said. “People who might’ve just picked up a racket or someone who has been playing for years will be playing each other as if they’ve known each other for years. Strangers become friends.”